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The Hartland Bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick, is the world's longest covered bridge,[3] at 391 metres (1,283 ft) long. It crosses the Saint John River from Hartland to Somerville, New Brunswick, Canada. The framework consists of seven small Howe Truss bridges joined together on six piers.[4]

History

Hartland Bridge when it opened on July 4, 1901.

Before the bridge, the only way to cross the Saint John River was by ferry. Plans and specifications of the bridge began in 1898 and the bridge was constructed in 1901 by the Hartland Bridge Company. On May 13, 1901, Dr. Estey was the first person to cross the bridge before its scheduled opening, because he had to respond to an emergency call. Workers placed planks on the bridge so he could drive across the bridge. It was finally inaugurated by Justice McKeowan on July 4, 1901 before a crowd of 2,000 people. It was funded by tolls[5] until it was purchased by the provincial government on May 1, 1906. The bridge was not originally built covered.[1]

A fire in 1907 burnt some of the structure and nearly destroyed the toll house.[6]

On April 6, 1920, two spans of the bridge collapsed due to river ice. The bridge reopened in 1922 after construction to repair the structure, at which time the bridge was also covered, despite some local opposition.[2] The wooden piers were also converted to concrete.

A pedestrian walkway was added to the bridge in 1945. In 1966, vandals attempted to burn the bridge down.[7] The bridge was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1980,[3] and a Provincial Historic Site in 1999.[8]

In 1982, the bridge was again closed for repairs after a car struck a steel beam, causing part of the bridge to drop. The bridge was reopened to traffic on February 10, 1983.

In the winter of 2007, the bridge was closed due to the central beam splitting down the middle. It has since been reopened after repairs were carried out.

On July 4, 2012, in honour of its 111th anniversary, it was celebrated with a Google Doodle on Google's Canadian homepage.[9]

Legends

When the bridge was mostly used by horse and wagon, couples would stop half-way across to share a kiss. The first wedding on the bridge was celebrated in September 1993 between Charmaine Laffoley and David Hunt from Toronto. It is thought by some locals to be good luck to hold one's breath the entire way across while driving.

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